Austrian Adventures: Creek jumping

Theresa Balick
Austria Correspondent

The first time I creek jumped, I stood on the top of the ravine, watching another girl leap off a skinny tree stump, praying that she would jump far enough to avoid hitting the rock that formed the small waterfall.

A moment later, she hit the water, and she bobbed up looking refreshed and satisfied.

It was a terrifying moment; I was shivering since the warmth of the sun had disappeared as the sun set behind the mountains, and I knew the water was going to be cold. That was the first day in two weeks that was not 50 degrees and raining. I kept repeating to myself, “Is this worth it?”

Luckily, the tree stump is the more advanced way of jumping into the creek that flows across the street from the Kartause. I was not keen on balancing on a stump, knowing that, if I slipped or lost my balance, I would tumble headfirst onto a rock underneath only two inches of water.

So, I decided to take the less risky method of climbing down to the edge of the river, standing on a rock and leaping out into the middle of the stream.

My hands were shaking as I slid down the slope, the ground muddy from two weeks’ worth of rain. One of my friends ran to the bridge over the stream to film me, while two of my other friends, both of whom would jump after me, cheered me on from the road level.

“Just tell me when,” my friend on the bridge called, his phone ready to film.

I knew that, once I gave my friend the signal, I had to jump. I couldn’t have second thoughts once the camera started rolling.

I swallowed and kept my eyes trained on the clear water. I gave my friend a thumbs-up. My last thought as my legs bent was, “This water will be so cold.”

The water was indeed cold, so cold that it took my breath away. But once I climbed out, every sense felt alive. I felt so alive.

Sometimes, that is what life seems to be like. We watch others overcome challenges, knowing that we are next. We enter them ourselves, slipping down the slope and feeling completely alone. We stare at the swirling water, knowing it will be uncomfortable to jump in even though we know it will be good.

The good news about life is that, while we have to do uncomfortable things sometimes, we don’t do them alone. God is right there, leaping off the rock into the cold water next to us. He’s not like my friend on the bridge simply encouraging me to make the leap or like my friends cheering me on from above; instead, he holds my hand and jumps with me.

We all have to jump into cold waters sometimes. We have to have the difficult and awkward conversations. We have to let friendships go. We have to give up what we want and what we planned and leap into what God wants for us.

Once we do, with his help, we will feel refreshed and alive again.

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